I keep hearing creative professionals say to their clients… “I CAN REBRAND YOU” and give you a whole new look and feel. Really?

I’m a creative professional that attended art school and studied graphic and web design. I’ve also studied Public Relations at a Graduate Degree level but I’ll always be in love with anything about design and creativity. But, I’ve got to shed some light on creative professionals who really believe they provide “branding” services to their clients. I’ve also got to clarify some things for their clients who may have been sold an incomplete truth.

TO THE BUSINESSES OUT THERE….if a creative professional gave you only a new logo, website and company stationary, you did not receive a “rebrand”. That’s the  visual part of the rebranding process, which has HUGE VALUE in it’s own right but…

CREATIVE PROFESSIONALS YOU’RE NOT REBRANDING FOR YOUR CLIENTS UNLESS…

ONE: You’ve taken time out to study their specific business model, sat with them and engaged them in a SWOT analysis and listened to some of the business challenges they are facing.

TWO: You’ve helped the client carefully study their target market and assess if their business is speaking to the right audience. Audiences are always changing and by walking clients through this process, you’ll help them identify who their ideal clients are.

THREE: You’ve studied the various pain points customers experience when they engage with the business. Through strategies such as “social listening” and “surveys”, you can help clients get an understanding of what clients really think — and make adjustments from there.

FOUR: Assessing, re-developing and re-designing all digital, social media and brick and mortar brand touch points. Everything that the customer engages with must be in alignment to what the business promises the customer.

FIVE: Propose a revamped communications strategy that may include a new logo, a social media strategy, a new website and new marketing collateral that aligns with the new business goals and brand message.

But the design elements of the rebranding process should not be happening first. They should happen as a result of addressing business problems first and then utilizing design and technology to re- enforce those solutions.

In all my research there’s nothing that links the process of rebranding to design only. Rebranding is mostly about solving a client’s business problems through a step by step discovery process — that can include redesigning.

In fact the rebranding process first starts with in-depth research. Both primary research (research that is gathered through social experiments, surveys and interviews) and secondary research (research that’s already in existence and has been vetted)

I’ve noticed throughout various Facebook groups and LinkedIn discussion boards, that people are using the word “rebranding” and the phrase “I’m currently rebranding” a little too loosely. The term “rebranding” has become so widely used by consultants and designers, it’s now joined in a collection of phrases such as “I build websites”.

If people are making reference to a re-design of a logo or renaming of a business, that’s fine. Their intentions should be stated as such. “I’m currently renaming my business” or “I’m currently redesigning my logo”. But just because a business is renamed and it’s website has been revamped, does not mean the business has been rebranded properly.

It only means the business changed the “visual feel” of itself.

Even though I’ve only rebranded 2 companies so far as a creative professional, I am far from a branding expert. I’m just a creative professional that has learned to respect terminology, process and expertise. I have NO RIGHT to flaunt terminology for the sake of joining a bandwagon that every creative professional has joined.

I’ve learned that branding is a complete process mixed with business development, user experience, research, data, communications and lastly visual design. If you’re a creative professional, advertising you do branding you’re not branding – you are providing visual overhaul, but not solving business problems for your clients.

Say something like….“I do brand design” or something like that…but please stop saying you do “branding”.

To rebrand a business means to come at it because of an important need to do so: (1) a client’s audience might be changing; (2) a new business has arrived within their market that is disrupting the success off their business; or (3) certain external factors beyond the client’s control have shifted their successful foundation from beneath them.

So if you’re a creative professional, please take a quick moment to go and research what it means to “rebrand” a business.

You might be misleading your potential clients.

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